New faces aplenty in spring train­ing

Antelope Valley Press - - SPORTS - By JIMMY GOLEN

FORT MY­ERS, Fla. — The crack of the bat at spring train­ing camps re­placed the sound of trash can lids bang­ing in home­made YouTube videos as base­ball emerged from its win­ter of cheat­ing scan­dals and salary dumps to bask in the Florida and Ari­zona sun.

The Pitts­burgh Pi­rates and San Diego Padres held their first of­fi­cial work­outs, and pitch­ers and catch­ers for 16 other teams re­ported to their Grape­fruit and Cac­tus League com­plexes on Tues­day. The rest of the ma­jor leagues will fil­ter in this week.

Red Sox play­ers checked in without know­ing who their man­ager will be, al­most a month af­ter Alex Cora was fired for his part in the Hous­ton Astros 2017 sign-steal­ing scheme. Bench coach Ron Roenicke, a former Brew­ers skip­per, will serve as in­terim man­ager while the team waits for Ma­jor League Base­ball to wrap up its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Bos­ton’s at­tempts to steal signs af­ter Cora ar­rived in ‘18.

The Red Sox were also without a former MVP and Cy Young Award win­ner af­ter the long-hag­gled trade of Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers was fi­nal­ized on Mon­day.

“Great team­mates. Great play­ers,” Red Sox out­fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. said af­ter ar­riv­ing at Fen­way South on Tues­day. “Time to move for­ward.”

At the Red Sox com­plex in Fort My­ers, re­liever Matt Barnes tossed a foot­ball on a back field while team­mates stretched and sprinted. The rest of the po­si­tion play­ers are sched­uled to re­port on Sun­day; spring train­ing games be­gin in earnest on Feb. 22.

Across Fort My­ers at the Min­nesota Twins’ camp, Mar­win Gon­za­lez be­came the first Astros hitter to apol­o­gize for his role in the sign-steal­ing. The util­i­ty­man was in Hous­ton from 2012-18, in­clud­ing the cham­pi­onship sea­son that was the sub­ject of the MLB in­ves­ti­ga­tion that led to the fir­ing of man­ager A.J. Hinch and gen­eral man­ager Jeff Luh­now.

“I’m re­morse­ful for every­thing that hap­pened in 2017, for every­thing that we did as a group and for the play­ers that were af­fected di­rectly by us do­ing this,” Gon­za­lez told re­porters. “I wish I could take it back and do it a dif­fer­ent way, but there’s noth­ing we can do. I just want to move for­ward and fo­cus on the 2020 team.”

The Dodgers added Betts and Price to make an­other run at a World Se­ries af­ter be­ing de­nied in back-to-back sea­sons by teams that have been ac­cused of cheat­ing. The Astros, who re­port to West Palm Beach on Wed­nes­day, re­placed Hinch with Dusty Baker.

The Mets were the third team to fire a man­ager in the wake of the scan­dal. They re­ported to Port St. Lu­cie on Mon­day with new man­ager Luis Ro­jas; he re­placed Car­los Bel­trán, a player on the Astros World Se­ries team who never man­aged a game for New York.

“We ex­pect to be a con­tender,” Ro­jas said in his first spring train­ing news con­fer­ence. “We have a great ros­ter, great po­si­tion play­ers with ver­sa­til­ity, great start­ing ro­ta­tion or pitch­ers that have a his­tory of Cy Youngs and World Se­ries win­ners. And our bullpen has a his­tory of sav­ing games and be­ing closers.”

Here is some other news from around spring train­ing:

WORK­ING FOR TIPS

Phillies man­ager Joe Gi­rardi said he will make sure his pitch­ers and catch­ers aren’t giv­ing away their signs. And if the team picks up on any tells from op­pos­ing pitch­ers — within the rules — that’s fair game.

“We’re go­ing to do things the right way and we’re go­ing to look for ev­ery ad­van­tage there is,” Gi­rardi said. “If the pitcher is tip­ping, we’re go­ing to use that. And we’re go­ing to pro­tect … make sure that our guys aren’t tip­ping. “

HOME AGAIN

Joe Mad­don re­turned to the An­gels, where he spent the first three decades of his base­ball ca­reer. A light-hit­ting catcher who worked his way up through the or­ga­ni­za­tion be­fore man­ag­ing the Rays and Cubs, he is back with a fran­chise that hasn’t won a play­off game since 2009.

“It’s kind of eerily the same, so I feel pretty com­fort­able with it,” he said, not­ing that he saw some of the same faces at the com­plex in Tempe, Ari­zona, from be­fore he left for Tampa Bay in 2006. “Lis­ten, I’ve al­ways loved this place . ... I get flooded with nostal­gia, I do. And it’s OK. It’s a good thing.”

ROLLING IN

Re­liever Aroldis Chap­man showed up at Yan­kees camp in Tampa in a white Rolls Royce con­vert­ible with a black roof. But the big­gest ar­rival was right-han­der Ger­rit Cole, who signed a $324 mil­lion, nine-year con­tract in the off­sea­son.

“He brings a dy­namic that’s crazy,” first base­man Mike Ford said. “He boost­ers our staff that’s al­ready is awe­some. To have him, prob­a­bly the top pitcher in the game, couldn’t be hap­pier.”

NEW DIGS

New Gi­ants man­ager Gabe Kapler liked the looks of the team’s ex­panded com­plex at Scotts­dale Sta­dium in Ari­zona. A three-story build­ing be­hind the seats down the first base line houses a new club­house, weight room, meet­ing spa­ces, coaches of­fices, train­ers room and large event space.

“Every­thing will be more in­ter­twined, and that’s by de­sign,” Kapler said. “We want to bring de­part­ments to­gether and we want to solve prob­lems col­lec­tively. And then we can take ad­van­tage of a very di­verse group of thinkers.”

As­so­ci­ated Press

RE­TURN TO BASE­BALL — Red Sox re­lief pitcher Bran­don Work­man leaves af­ter re­port­ing for spring train­ing on Tues­day in Fort My­ers, Florida.

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